THE SEX FILES: Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel

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I envy rebels and am pretty much sold on naked women; any wonder I loved Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel. This new documentary, part of the Canadian Front 2010 film exhibition showing presently at MoMA, is a 2 hr plus film bio of the “Playboy” publisher, sexuality architect, pipe-smoking PJ-wearing iconoclast.

Although the film is stocked with archival footage and pictures, interviews with Hef friends, employees and even critics, for me the most significant and entertaining parts of the movie are Hef’s view on Hef. Sitting and spinning over huge scrapbooks, Hef relates stories about his early days developing the magazine in his living room, his finding of cartoonists and writers…and the girls of course; how Playboy’s jazz concerts and T.V. show introduced talents either on the fringe or kept from the mainstream because of a stringent segregation divide; how Hef was one of the first to hire a black comedian, Dick Gregory in one of his Playboy clubs and the first to publish Ray Bradbury’s seminal (and maybe the most important work ever about censorship, Fahrenheit 451) and his even sending the ‘Big Bunny’ jet to pick up stranded Vietnamese babies. Yes we get a good look at the girls, the grotto and the grist that is this man’s life, but Hugh Hefner: Play, Activist, and Rebel focuses more on the pipe-smoking, Pepsi drinking, PJ-wearing man’s good deeds then on boobs and bunny tails.

Hugh Hefner: Play, Activist, and Rebel at the 7th Annual Canadian Front, Film Exhibition, MoMA, Wed-Mon. For more info go to www.moma.org

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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